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tv   The Cycle  MSNBC  August 27, 2014 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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they're doing so with ieds, the same types of roadside bombs that killed or injured 34,000 u.s. troops in iraq. this tactic changes the game. u.s. air strikes can't stop ieds. you can see how widespread isis is now in the region. president obama calls them a cancer. now, the white house is prepping for another humanitarian mission in iraq and possible strikes next door in syria. we don't know the details, but we do know it won't include working with bashar al assad. washington says he's a nonstarter. just today, the u.n. accused both assad and isis of mass atrocities. they say assad has once again used chemical weapons against his own citizens while isis is accused of waging a wall painca fear. we've heard about the mass public executions, but the u.n. says isis is also recruiting and training children, some as young as 10 years old. isis also has american hostages and americans fighting for them.
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today the mother of journalist steven sotloff made an emotional plea on a saudi-run news station broadcast throughout the arab world. >> since steven's capture, i've learned a lot about islam. i've learned that islam teaches that no individual should be held responsible for the sins of others. steven has no control over the actions of the u.s. government. he's an innocent journalist. >> meantime, the family of minnesota-born isis fighter douglas mccain says they're in disbelief after mccain was killed fighting for isis in syria. attorney general eric holder says federal prosecutors are running about 100 investigations into u.s. citizens who may be following mccain's lead. the pentagon spoke about that earlier today on ""andrea mitchell reports." >> when we talk about the potential immediacy of the
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threat, that's this idea of foreign fighters going over there, getting radicalized, get equipped, get trained, and go back to their home state. >> quite a busy day. so many moving pieces. here to help sort them out, we have kenneth pollack, senior fellow at brookings institute. he worked on president clinton's national security council. thanks so much for being on the show, sir. >> always glad to be here. thanks for having me, luke. >> i was interested in an op-ed written in "the washington post" today where a gentleman basically says that the best way to go after isis is not necessarily eliminate baghdadi, their head, because someone else could fill the vacuum, perhaps someone we do not know. but the best way for the u.s. to eliminate this threat is to go after midlevel leadership and try and decimate them through that capability. what is the best way for the u.s. to go about getting rid of isis militarily at this point, considering they're using ieds and our air strikes can only go so far? >> yeah, look, this is the
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$64,000 question. what we have learned historically is the way you defeat groups like isis is not to go after the top, not to go after the middle, it's to turn the people against them. this is what the u.s. ultimately succeeded in doing in iraq. we convinced the sunni population of iraq back in 2007-2008 to finally turn against what was then al qaeda in iraq. it was enormously successful because they wanted them out, and they simply needed our help to do so. that's what we're seeing up in northern iraq where the kurds and other groups are pushing back on them. a little bit of american support, weaponry, air strikes goes a long way when you've got the people armed and willing to push back on them. the problem in much of iraq and in much of syria is that's not the case. the people are not armed. they're not organized. and in many cases, they are frightened and ambivalent about the threat that al qaeda and isis pose to them because they see other threats. the assad regime, the maliki
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regime when maliki was in power. these are the real challenges. so it has to be this combined political and military campaign. >> let's talk a little more about the political piece of that in iraq. and this is something you've been writing on. very interesting things. we've all been talking about how we can't have this divided government. we have to have some sort of a government in iraq that has political legitimacy among all parties. you're writing about some of the specific asks that the sunnis, shias, and kurds and other groups in iraq actually want. what is a viable political solution potentially look like in iraq? >> yeah, this is the huge question, krystal. i think we request look at the situation in iraq and can say broadly it's going to have to be a situation where the sunnis get much greater say over their own affairs, maybe they get an autonomous region similar to what the kurds have. power in iraq is decentralized. the sunnis get a share of oil revenue.
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the iraqi military is thoroughly refo reformed. that's kind of easy to say. it's actually unbelievably difficult to make it work in practice. chances are it's going to take months, maybe even years. so the key is right now for the u.s. and its allies, the turks, the saudis, groups that actually have influence, within particular the sunnis. we've got to get them what they need in the near term. symbolic gestures, initial steps by the iraqi government to make them feel comfortable that they're going to get what they need at the end of the day but they don't try to wait until they have everything they need to start fighting isis. we need them to start fighting isis soon. we can't wait two, three, four years, maybe never, for this political process to sort itself out. the real key is going to be how much can we get them, and is it going to be enough? symbolic gestures, initial steps, things we can hand them and say, look, this is a clear sign the shia would want to work with you. see if that's going to be enough. get them to start working
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against isis with us. >> seems like in iraq there are these various constituencies we can work with. we're using our air power and supporting the iraqi kurds, what remains of the iraqi central government. in syria, is there that partner for us? how can we intervene in syria given the vacuum that exists there and try to support something to push isis out? >> yeah, you know, at the end of the day, josh, there is a partner. it's called the syrian people. in particular, syria's sunni populous, like the iraqi populous, they really don't have any love for isis. they don't have any love for the nusra front. they see this front as dangerous and imposing harsh conditions on their life. but no one gives them any al person pif. no one protects them from these guys. the average person is not going to turn on them. so they go along with it, no matter how unwillingly. what you find is where it works, you've got to create circumstances where the average
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person feels comfortable pushing back, where they feel safe enough to do so. and the problem is in syria there is just no one doing that. this has been one of the constant criticisms of the obama administration. and i think to the extent we are looking at how do you actually solve this problem, it's something that we've got to look hard at. in iraq, yes, there's the potential there. maybe if we can get a unified new iraqi government, that will allow us to then help them. in syria, right now we've got nothing. what that means is if we are going to really deal with the threat of isis and these other groups in syria, we're going to have to build a new group in syria that we actually can back and that the average syrian can put their trust in. that's not impossible. we've done it in other places of the world. but it's going to require a much bigger effort than the administration has so far been willing to make. >> ken, news that iran is sending arms and ammunition to the iraqi kurds to help them in their fight against isis. we see isis is unifying the world in the fight against isis,
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making nations that dislike each other work together. but this is what we need. we shouldn't have an american force going it alone. we should have forces from the middle east and from europe helping us combat isis. >> yeah, you're right. first, welcome to the middle east. this is how things work there. but we do need to remember that the enemy of our enemy is not necessarily our friend. in this case, you're absolutely correct. everybody pretty much hates isis. there aren't too many people out there who really like isis. there are some people who will tolerate it, some who may be seeing it serve some of their purposes. in general, everyone is pretty scared of it. that includes the iranians. this is one of those issues. there are a number where we and the iranians do have common interests. i think you're absolutely right. from my perspective, we shouldn't be fighting the iranians on this. if they want to contribute to the common fight against isis, we should be welcoming it. the more countries willing to do so, the better. but we also need to recognize that iran has its own interests. for them, this is a big two-for.
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on the one hand, they get to help the kurds fight isis. they like that because they hate and fear isis. but they're also looking for influence over the kurds. they're very nervous about iraq's kurds declaring independence because they're afraid that will pull their own kurdish population away from them. so don't assume this is just out of, you know, some kind of an iranian strategic interest that's perfectly aligned with the united states. there are always dark lineings to go with the silver clouds. >> ken pollack of brookings, timely and poignant analysis. we appreciate that. up next, what every day americans make of all this. one congressman tells us what he's hearing from constituents back home. plus a setback in the battle against ebola. and later, the difference between a martyr and a saint. why it matters this week as "the cycle" rolls on for wednesday, august 27th. i'm going to rant. luke letting loose. you drop 40 grand on a new set of wheels, then... wham! a minivan t-bones you.
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cycling right now, a setback in the battle against ebola. a third top doctor in sierra leone has now died from the virus. he was working in a clinic with he contracted it. health workers have been the most susceptible because they've been so close to sick patients. more than 1400 people in west africa have died from the virus so far. two american workers flown back here for treatment have recovered and since been released. and turning now to politics. tons of chatter inside the walls of the white house has the president mulls air strikes inside of syria. but inside of congress, members of the president's own party are growing increasingly concerned about what may be happening under their watch but without their consent.
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they've had a month to hear about those concerns also from main street. congressman peter welsh has been talking with his constituents back in vermont, where he joins us from this afternoon. thank you for being with us. >> thank you. >> so congressman, i know something you've been very outspoken about is if we are going to have air strikes, there needs to be a congressional vote. there needs to be accountability for members of congress to stand up and say where they stand on that issue. first of all, do you know how you would vote in such an instance and why? also, is that something you're hearing from your constituents that they're really concerned about, that piece of congressional accountability here? >> there is. a couple things. one, it would depend on what the president requested. i did support the efforts he made to stop the genocide of the yazidis and to protect our personnel in erbil. in that circumstance, it was specific to genocide and protection of american lives. but we also had a circumstance
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where we had a competent government, kurdish government, and a competent military as an ally of the peshme arga. but if we move now into going after isis in syria, that's a whole different question. that's us making a move towards assuming major responsibility when, in fact, we can be of assistance but the primary responsibility has to be the people in the region. what i'm hearing here, it's complicated in a way. there's collective horror about what isis did to mr. foley. of course, his parents live just across the river in new hampshire. also, vermonters were relieved on the part where theo curtis went to middlebury college and there was a much better outcome there where he was released after two years of captivity in the nusra front. but there's a real skepticism about america taking on primary
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responsibility. and that's not just war weariness. part of it has to do with the common sense recognition that having our boots on the ground in iraq did not get the job done because the iraqi political situation was a mess and continues to be. and nation building in afghanistan didn't really get the job done. so i think people here are skeptical of america taking on responsibility to revolve age-old political conflicts that really persist between the sunni and shia in the middle east because that's something they have to fundamentally do themselves. president obama has said that. >> congressman, what sort of sense are you getting from your colleagues? do members of congress want to vote on this? do they want the responsibility for deciding the course of action here, or do some of them prefer to leave it to the president? >> well, candidly, i think a lot of folks would say they'd like to vote but hope we don't have to. there's a reason why i think congress should. we have an independent responsibility. the president as commander in chief has to make decisions about what's required to protect
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national security and americans. he has to do that with reference to what he believes is within his legal authority. but congress has an independent responsibility. we never can be successful in any kind of significant ongoing military action unless the american people are behind it. we've seen what happens when there isn't support to sustain a military action. so one of the reasons i believe so strongly that we in congress have a responsibility, tough as that vote may be, is that congress does best reflect where every day americans are. so i think that both the president and the congress have to step up, and if we're going to be supportive of anything the president's doing, we should say yes or no and be held accountable by the people we represent. >> congressman welsh, luke russert here. you said congress does the best job of representing where the american people are. i've gone to a lot of town halls over the last year, and one thing i often hear, whether it be a conservative district or a liberal district, is we do not
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want anymore boots on the ground. we do not want to commit trillions more dollars to the middle east for a mission we cannot quantify success often. where do you see your constituents now, especially after the growth of isis, the beheading of mr. foley? a lot of things are in people's living rooms on a day in, day out basis, showing how much we should fear this group. do you think there is some more desire on behalf of your constituents to go to war against isis? >> i actually don't think there is. i mean, there's nothing that we could do to isis that people wouldn't in a way support. because if we could just decapitate them, i think people would support it. but going into syria, people have had experience with what's happened in iraq and in afghanistan. and when you actually start thinking about the collateral consequences of significant military action, especially in syria, that's the one place where if there's a competitor for worst actor in the middle
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east, it's bashar al assad, who's murdered, who has tortured, who has beheaded his own people. he's created a mountain of bodies. now, how are we going to navigate between the monster assad and the monster isis and somehow have that come out to be a democratic liberal state? so i think there's a lot of practical reservation on the part of every day people who, yes, are horrified at what isis did but are skeptical of any kind of boots on the ground. that's conservative and lib call districts both. >> congressman, let me turn you back to domestic affairs. georgia congressman hank johnson says he will in september introduce the stop militarizing law enforcement act, which will prevent the transfer of military equipment from the dod to local pds. would you support that bill, and do you think that it has a chance of getting through congress? there seems to be bipartisan support, possibly, for that. >> well, it's an important
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discussion. but i've been talking to my local please chiefs and our commissioner of public safety here and asking them about that. what they say is no matter what equipment you have, number one, there's got to be real training. number two, there's got to be tactical judgment. you don't bring humvees and huge vehicles to a demonstration. so there's an immense abomount training that's important in any department that's going to get equipment. secondly, in vermont we do have some heavy equipment. it's under control of the state police. it's not like every local police department has a humvee or some of this heavy equipment. so the real issue here for me will be taking a hard look at what equipment is going out, if it goes to an agency, should that agency have to be trained both tactically and with leadership about how and when to use certain equipment. because what you saw in my view in ferguson was a tactical
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overresponse in the use of equipment that made a volatile situation much worse. >> congressman peter welsh, thank you so much for your time. and up next, you've heard from the congressman just what will happen when he and the rest of his colleagues get back to washington. we will put that to dana milbank. and coming together in ferguson through football. "sports illustrated" with a take on the town that you haven't heard until now. so i get invited to quite a few family gatherings. heck, i saved judith here a fortune with discounts like safe driver, multi-car, paperless. you make a mighty fine missus, m'lady. i'm not saying mark's thrifty. let's just say, i saved him $519, and it certainly didn't go toward that ring. am i right? [ laughs ] [ dance music playing ] so visit today. i call this one "the robox."
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in case you miss congress, and who doesn't, they'll be back in a few weeks. they'll be in washington. we just heard from congressman peter welsh on what he's hearing from constituents back home. now let's hear from friend of the show and washington wiseman
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dana milbank. dana with a recess beard. >> what a beard. >> he stole barro's beard. >> i'm going to keep growing it until they pass something in congress. >> it's going to get long. >> old man winter. >> so dana, obviously isis is a very significant issue for the president's foreign policy team, and it's something voters are paying a little bit of attention to, but we just talked to congressman peter welsh and asked, would your constituents be in favor. people are really part of a war weary nation right now. do you think isis can at all play in to the 2014 midterms? you've seen republicans tie this into a culture of incompetence by the obama administration. or is this really just going to be about the economy, more so than anything in 2014? >> well, luke, it's part of the overall stew of issues that is
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going on here. that'll be one piece of it. but probably a small piece compared to immigration, to the economy, to jobs and everything else. so i think the congressman made a good point here. he said when he's being candid, most of his colleagues don't want to have a vote on an authorization of a use of force. they'd like to kind of look the other way, hope the administration can do something to handle it. that seems to be okay for the republicans too because they just like to criticize whatever the administration does. so you'll be shocked that i see it highly unlikely that any sort of congressional action on this very important national security matter. >> you are hearing, though, more and more democrats, obviously congressman peter welsh in our last segment, but other democrats as well saying we really do want to have this vote. we want people to be on the record. do you see enough of a movement
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building there? so far it's predominantly on the left, although you could certainly see some republicans stepping up and saying the same thing. do you see that getting much momentum or is congressman welsh more of a loner in terms of actually wanting the vote? >> i think he is, krystal. first of all, let's be fair. i've checked the congressional schedule between now and the election. they're technically in for 12 days, but six of those are kind of those half days where they just show up at the end of the day for a vote. so let's put it all together and say maybe they have about nine days left. so if the question is anything, the answer is no, they're not going to do anything about it. i think welsh is a bit of an outlier there. i think a lot of democrats do not want to be put on the spot. he's quite liberal and would be happy to stake out that ground and safe to do so up there in voth. a lot of others don't want to have to do that, particularly vulnerable democrats up for election. and the republicans aren't eager
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to help them out, so they may seek more aggressive resolutions that are also not really about events on the ground there but about making statements before the election. >> the big takeaway from what you just said for me is that your beard is soon going to be z.z. top long, which i'm looking forward to. but also, you might have already answered this question. the likelihood of congress doing something about demilitarizing our american police forces. are you going to say no chance of that in 2014? >> well, if you push for it, toure, i think you could get it over the top there. if you think about it, hank johnson, like welsh, he's definitely from the liberal wing of the party. he's got his following. but he's kind of out there. and there's nothing that is being offered by house democrats or has been for the better part of the last four years that's going to become law now. so you can sort of see -- even, look, we couldn't even react to the border crisis when there was a very real need for some money to get going.
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so the fact that they can do something where are the republicans have a built-in entrenchment -- entrenched opposition, very unlikely. but i don't want to seem so dour, so let's say it's possible. >> congressman welsh, when toure asked him about it, wasn't willing to say he would vote for it. sounded like he wouldn't vote for it. >> not to mention it wouldn't get to the house floor. >> well, harry reid poured cold water on the idea. >> but other than that, it sounds fine. >> other than that, smooth sailing. >> you brought up the border crisis. i think if you'd asked me on august 1st, i would have said this recess was going to be all about immigration. that was before everything went to hell all over the world. that issue, is it going to come back? what do you see happening on that politically, either in congress or with executive actions from the president? >> it's certainly not going away regardless of what happens. so the big question here, as you know, josh, is the president
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going to make some significant executive action that republicans can point to as amnesty between now and the election? a lot of democrats, particularly the vulnerable ones, are afraid of that. on the other hand, it could really rile up the democratic base, which is desperately needed if they're to hold on to the senate. on the other hand, it'll also rile up the republican base. so it may be the wiser thing for them to hold off another eight weeks or so. >> you know, luke, what i take out of this segment with dana talking about it how much vacation congress gets is you've got a pretty plum beat down there. >> i would love to work congress' hours. sadly, i can't get away with that. >> he's the hardest working guy in the capitol, that luke russert. >> a low bar. >> dana milbank, a man with a wise beard. thank you so much. let's shift gears to a truly bizarre story that's cycling now in philadelphia.
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police are still piecing together the details after two people were abducted, thrown into a van, and then drowned in a river. a third escaped and flagged down a driver on a nearby road. that lone survivor was stabbed at least nine times. he says he didn't know the two victims, that they were already in the van when he was bound, his mouth duct taped and thrown in the back with them. cops are now poring through surveillance video to try and find out who did it. ugh. heartburn. did someone say burn? try alka seltzer reliefchews. they work just as fast and taste better
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it's the jackie robinson west little league team, which is the first all african-american squad to win it all in 30 years. they also have become a much-needed beacon of hope for a somewhat troubled city. folks from st. louis county are looking for their own beacon of hope. they might look to a football team that plays just outside of ferguson. the guys hadn't been able to practice at their school because of the unrest. but they kept on practicing elsewhere, relying on the game to keep their heads straight and their bodice away from the street. coaches want them to keep from growing up too fast and tell them to focus on their football, forget about the protests, they say. they also say, michael brown could have been one of you. "sports illustrated" writer robert clemco has been following the comments and coach for weeks. he joins us from chicago. what did you learn about st. louis county following these boys? >> well, i learned that the youth there have a very
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conflicted relationship with police. many of them are indifferent, but many of them also have had bad experiences with them. i spoke with a bunch of young men on that high school football team, and the big conflict for them was, you know, spending time getting ready for the season and also deciding what to do about this social unrest in their city. should they participate? and finding out kind of what their life experiences lended to their view on the situation. >> yeah, one of the interesting parts of your story, you talked about trevor span, our boy who's on the team. he had a rough interaction with a cop, as many of the boys in this area have. so he decided that he hated the cops. a couple years ago, his mother married a cop, and that had made him reassess his relationship with cops, the way he felt about them. he began to see the humanity in cops. there you see -- and when folks get to really know each other, you can't be an abstraction anymore. you have to see someone as a real human being. >> right. you may have read the lawsuit
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filed in 2012 that has come back to light now against a ferguson police officer where a young boy, 12 years old and shirtless, checking his mail at the driveway, was thrown to the ground and assaulted by police. the police claim he had assaulted them. a young man i spoke with by chance had a very similar situation, though not to the same extreme. he was also 12 years old playing tag with his friends in a park. he was accosted by the police, thrown up against a car, searched and interrogated under the catch-all excuse, you know, you fit the description of a robbery suspect, which is what a lot of the young men in ferguson who say they have been racially profiled say happens when the police approach them. this young man, as you mentioned, his mother met and married a st. louis police officer, not a ferguson police officer, and later on in life, you know, years later as he
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began to think about it and talk about it with his father, he decided he wanted to be a state trooper in missouri. so like i said, a very conflicted relationship here between these kids and the police force early in their lives. >> robert, you have this quote that toure just mentioned from the coach where he tells the kids, michael brown could have been one of you guys. what did he mean by that? was that sort of -- was it like a keep your nose clean kind of comment, or was it more you need to be aware and active in what's going on in the community here? >> i think it was part an attention grab in order to get them thinking about this in a responsible way, and also to let them know they need to be aware of their surroundings when they're walking around on the street. people have differing versions of the story in the rumor mill there in ferguson. one version says that the boy was completely innocent, and nobody really does know the truth, but what he was trying to impress upon his team is that they could be victimized in a
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way that they see michael brown has having been victimized. so while the coach was trying to get them to focus on football, for instance, he spent an entire practice having the team watch the civil rights documentary "eyes on the prize" by pbs. he asked them, had they heard who the black panthers were, and barely any of them had. >> wow. >> so very much with this team and with a lot of the teams in the school districts in and around ferguson, the coaches during the summer when this has all gone down and they're not in their classes, have been educators both on the field and off. >> one comment i found especially interesting from the head coach of the team was he implored his players, don't be a stereotype. how do you think the team reacted to that? not only in the context of being a football team but also in the context of everything that's happened in ferguson over the last few weeks. >> right. well, i think that's a message that the coach has tried to impart upon his team for the last three years.
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being a predominantly black school and an all-black football team that last had a white player two years ago, certain fans and people who are associated with the team expect certain things of the team. they expect kids to screw up, for kids to have bad grades, kids to get kicked off the team every so often. so the coach's constant message to them has been, don't fit the bill. don't be what everyone is expected you to be. it especially resonates in the context of all this. they don't want to be in a position where the police can abuse their authority. they always want to be on their toes and doing the right thing so that nothing like what happened to michael brown can happen to them. robert, i think people have been looking at this as one of the uplifts aspects of the ferguson story. how do the kids on the team feel about being in the spotlight like that and the role they've been playing in the story? >> that was the best part, just sitting in there and riding the bus with them. they love the attention.
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they were schooling me on their favorite rap artists, guys that i'd never heard of and have since become fans of. but these kids are so resilient. and really more media savvy than i think we give them credit for. the one thing i realized in talking with them is that teenagers in this setting, in this experience are viewing and experiencing this crisis in new ways that no teens before them had before. with columbine students, everything was communicated via television and cell phone. but these guys are experiencing everything through twitter and instagram. most of the kids i talk to first learned about michael brown being shot by seeing instagram pictures posted by their friends of him laying in the street for those hours that he was there. so they're very in tune to what we're saying about them, what the local and national media are saying about them, what their friends and neighbors are saying about them more than any other generation. >> you have to tell me who those rappers they love are later. robert, thank you very much for that. great story. up next, the surprising
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thing keeping some couples together these days. it's marijuana. puff, puff, pass, luke. plus, a man who gives a lot of folks the giggles. you know him from jimmy kimmel, tosh.0 and "late night" with conan o'brien. todd glass is with us next. ♪ ♪ trouble makers. ♪ dreamer of dreamers. ♪ ♪ we are the y-a-o! ♪ (chinese singing) ♪ oh... oh... oh... oh... ♪ years of swedish experience in in perfecting the rich,150 never bitter taste of gevalia. we do it all for this very experience.
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hey pal? you ready? can you pick me up at 6:30? ah... (boy) i'm here! i'm here! (cop) too late. i was gone for five minutes! ugh! move it. you're killing me. you know what, dad? i'm good. (dad) it may be quite a while before he's ready, but our subaru legacy will be waiting for him. (vo) the longest-lasting midsize sedan in its class. introducing the all-new subaru legacy. it's not just a sedan. it's a subaru. the summer that summers from here on will be compared to. so get out there, and get the best price guaranteed. find it for less and we'll match it and give you $50 toward your next trip. expedia. find yours. cycling right now, a new
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study from the university of buffalo found married couples who smoke weed together, at least a couple times a month, are less likely to fight or be violent toward each other. they're also more likely to get the munchies. the key is smoking it together. so now we know why the family that gets high together stays together. >> i always wondered that. something else that can keep couples together is laughter. >> every time there's a sign it happens. if you see a sign that says, no diving in the jacuzzi, or must put nozzle back on the pump, that means it happens. someone went, 30, 40, 50 -- >> todd glass has been a stand-up comedian for more than 30 years. while he can be brutally honest on stage with the audience, it took a brush with death to be honest with himself. in his new memoir, todd talks about coming out of the closet, which he thinks should be called something more manly like
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busting out of the tool shed. todd joins us in the guest spot. >> there you go. look at that shot. that's going to be hard. all i do is look at myself. >> you look very much out of the tool shed now. >> wait, what are you saying? >> so my favorite thing you had in this book is one of your earliest jobs in the early '80s, you were an opening act for patty labelle. i think we have some video for our younger viewers who might not know what she's like. you describe getting into a sparkly sequinned dress. i can say as a gay man with a certain amount of experience with these things that opening for patty labelle is probably the gayest thing you can do that's not a sex act. my question is, were you fooling anybody? >> first of all, if the act -- it wasn't like, you know, i set out to do that. they approached me. >> right. oh, yeah.
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that wasn't you. >> i knew a lot of her fans were very flamboyant. but i was so scared that, like, if anybody would -- i remember one guy was probably hitting on me after a show. i'm 19 years old. look at me now. imagine when i was 19. oh, my god. he said something to me, maybe hitting on me. all i did was launch into a story about my fake girlfriend, i think, for an hour and a half. i was like, my girlfriend, my girlfriend, my girlfriend until he got tired and i think fell asleep. >> with r you wearing the sequinned dress at this point? >> no, that was something -- you know, it's funny. i forgot that was in the book. that was something her road manager, during that segment you're talking about, she asked people up from the audience. at that time, i didn't really know who patty labelle was. i watched her, and she would do this bit where she invited people from the audience to dance. once of the back-up dancers said, oh, you should put on one of her dresses and go out there. i was on the side, so they could see me, but the audience
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couldn't. i got scared and said, i don't want to do it. they're like, do it, it'll be funny, and pushed me out there. we're in front of 3,000 people. it was good fun. >> but and to that point, for your average person staying in the tool shed or the closet is a very incredibly difficult and wrenching task, but when you're a public person and on stage talking about your life, you went to elaborate lengths to hide who you really were. >> the thing that makes it a little less sad -- because people would say, you made up stories about your girlfriend. i changed the sex, but they were all real stories, which sort of indirectly proves that relationships are relationships. not at one point did anybody ever hear me talking about, which was a guy, saying it was a girl and sit in the audience and go, wait a second. they're all the same. sort of the joke me and my friends had is the only reason i would have gotten caught is if i told a story like, i'm in the
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bathroom peeing next to my girlfriend. wait a second. >> wow. so talk about why you becamewow became a comedian, did you have a youthful need for attention. >> i'm lonely. >> because i'm bored. when i was younger, comedy made sense to me. everything else confused me. i had dyslexia and they didn't know that much about it. i couldn't understand anything and all i thought was nobody understands anything, you have to pay attention. every year i would say you've got to focus and i would sit there literally going focus, focus. and i realize, that was the only thing in my head which i still couldn't learn. when i heard stand-up comedians, whether they were silly and didn't have anything to say or political things to say or social things to say, it made sense. >> i loved stand-up comedy and fell in love with it. >> i love the way in the book
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you talk how the stand-up community responded after you came out, you were talking about how you're like, wow, i have a roommate, i'm 40 something and more embarrassed of that and letting people know i'm gay and jeff carlin is like there's my favorite gay comedian and you're embarrassed and -- >> at first i was, everything is great now and awesome. as everybody knows that does it, unless your family has trouble with it when you're younger, it's much better. but still not to forget some some kids it's still very hard. >> especially depending where you live. >> a lot of people do that in your social circles things are good because you should be commended for your friends being accepting but you can't lose touch with the real world. but being positive, things are better. and yeah, my comedian friends were very funny. i remember i talk about this in the book and got to say that, a lot of authors say that -- we'll get to you in one second.
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he said, hey, look, todd, don't worry about it. it's no big deal. i don't care. i know a doctor, he can help you. and then he goes, maybe -- do you have a black friend, maybe the three of us can walk around the mall and i can get some pr out of this. >> i imagine concealing something about yourself has to change the way you approach life and when you're suddenly open about this it might change your perspective. >> that's a good question. you like that. i'm getting good at this. i don't know why i'm doing the comedic sides to you -- because i was honest on stage before, but obviously i couldn't be. there's definitely things i talk about now that i can be much more open about, things i didn't perceive to be manly before, that i've now talk about, it's
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all makes it much better when you're not hiding something, no matter what it is. >> thank you so much for being here, todd. >> thank you. >> up next, luke let's loose on a collision of politics and religion. watch out for that. no matter where you want to be or what you want to do, chances are we're already there. 12 brands. more hotels than anyone else in the world. like super 8, where every destination is super. for a chance to win one million dollars, visit
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see car insurance in a whole new light. liberty mutual insurance. in recent days james foley who was brutally killed by isis has been referred to as a martyr, the dictionary says it is someone killed because of religious beliefs. to be a martyr in the catholic faith one has to hold true to their faith in final moments.
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from his own descriptions of his captivity in libya, he did that. i don't know if foley was kilds because he was a christian or american. i'll let the pope decide who is a martyr among this but it comes on the heels of another conversation about martyrdom, this past week pope francis said the late bishop killed in 1980 would have his path to sainthood be unlocked, quick back story, he was a bishop during the civil war and it was an ugly affair and he spoke out against the u.s. backing of an el salvad salvadorian army. romero would later be assassinated by a government affiliated gunman, the vatican saw him as a spokesmen for liberation theology, the faith through the eyes of the poor. not pop up lar when fighting
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communism was all rage. therefore it was blocked by pope john paul ii and pope benedict. for a catholic churched that's could be deemed as too political, perhaps more than his poignant comments on contemporary life, he moved to pave the way for sainthood is something that should be celebrated not only from can catholics but those who stand for truth and justice. he was killed doing the works jesus commanded us to do for our neighbor. and also a martyr. pope francis has moved to make him a saint. in order for that to be complete, a miracle must have occurred. where's the miracle with oscar romero, look no further than a story in the daily beast. he covered romero and ensuing
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chaos following his assassination. at romero's funeral, tens and thousands turned out knowing there's a chance they might be killed. at least 35 died. most of the dead were crushed in the panic. i was there and can tell you the miracle was that any of us survived. let's hope he becomes a saint and james foley is remembered whether as a martyr or good man. that does it for this edition of "the cycle." alex wagner starts "now". >> it is wednesday, august 27th and this is "now." >> growing threat of the terrorist group isis. >> dozens and dozens of americans are potentially becoming radicalized and going over and fighting with groups
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like isil. >> estimates are up to 100 americans in the isis force. >> conservative estimates suggest 500 british jihadis. >> fighters could go over there and get radicalized and come back to the homeland. >> we're very concerned about the risk that those individuals pose. >> we have got to repel this movement. >> inaction also at a price. >> there will be air strikes syria. >> i don't know what will be accomplished by the air strikes. >> they cannot take territory or hold territory. >> what exactly are we getting ourselves into? >> under what conditions would we be prepared to work with the syrian government? >> i'm ezra klein in for alex wagner. there is breaking news this hour, a law enforcement official tells nbc news it appears to be true, that a second american was killed over the weekend in syria in the very same